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Both Sides of the Five Pennies

Retrospective RTS 4227




1. Washboard Blues

2. That’s No Bargain

3. Buddy’s Habits

4. Boneyard Shuffle

5. Alabama Stomp

6. Hurricane

7. Davenport Blues

8. Bugle Call Rag

9. Delirium

10. Cornfed

11. Five Pennies

12. Mean Dog Blues

13. Riverboat Shuffle

14. Eccentric

15. Ida, Sweet As Apple Cider

16. Feelin’ No Pain

17. Nobody’s Sweetheart

18. Panama

19. Imagination

20. Original Dixieland One-step

21. I Never Knew

22. Sweet Georgia Brown

23. China Boy

24. Shim-me-sha-wabble

25. I Got Rhythm

26. Corrine Corrina


1. Louisiana

2. Mood Indigo

3. Peg O’ My Heart

4. Marchin’ With The Saints

5. Mama’s Gone, Goodbye

6. Ida, Sweet As Apple Cider

7. Farewell Blues

8. Blues At Midnight

9. Buddy’s Habits

10. Japanese Sandman

11. Mississippi Mud

12. Delta Roll

13. Dixie

14. Avalon

15. Davenport Blues

16. Tea For Two

17. Washboard Blues?

18. Eccentric

19. Battle Hymn Of The Republic

20. Lullaby In Ragtime

21. Indiana

22. The Five Pennies

23. Margie

24. What Is There To Say?

25. Moonlight Bay

Collective personnel

Red Nichols – Cornet, trumpet

Wingy Manone – Trumpet, vocals

Leo McConville, Mannie Klein, Ruby Weinstein, Charlie Teagarden,

Bobby Goodrich –Trumpet

Dudley Fosdick, Jackie Coon - Mellophone

Miff Mole, Glenn Miller, Jack Teagarden, King Jackson, Abe Lincoln,

Moe Schneider, Pete Beilman, Robbie Robinson - Trombone

Benny Goodman – Clarinet, baritone sax

Wayne Sanger – Clarinet, alto sax, baritone sax

Bill Wood - Clarinet, alto sax

Heinie Beau – Clarinet, tenor sax

Sid Stoneburn, Wayne Sanger – Alto sax

Arthur Schutt, Babe Russin - Tenor sax

Larry Binyon – Tenor sax, flute

Adrian Rollini - Bass sax, goofus

Joe Rushton, Jerry Kaspar, Joe Rushton – Bass sax

Joe Venuti, Ed Bergman, Ed Selinsky - Violin

Arthur Schutt, Joe Sullivan, Jack Russin, Bobby Hammack,

Allan Stevenson - Piano

Lennie Hayton – Piano, celeste

Eddie Lang, Carl Kress, George Van Eps, Allen Reuss – Guitar

Tony Colucci (?), Dick McDonough, Teg Brown – Banjo

Joe Tarto - Tuba

Art Miller, Jack Ryan, Marty Corb – Double bass

Vic Berton – Drums, harpophone

Chauncey Morehouse – Drums, vibraphone

Gene Krupa, Rollie Culver, Jack Sperling – Drums

Ralph Hansel – Vibraphone, timpani, bells, chimes

Dick Robertson - Vocals


The strange thing about the Five Pennies is that there were seldom five of them. The first four tracks on this double album are by a quintet (if you exclude Red Nichols himself) but by track five the group has expanded to a sextet, and by most of the second disc, the ensemble has virtually become a big band.

Nichols was a busy businessman, recording for numerous labels and having several hits with them. But he was also a skilful musician and leader of well-disciplined bands playing tight arrangements. His talent for spotting up-and-coming musicians is clear from the personnel lists above, which include such famous names as Jimmy Dorsey, Gene Krupa, Ed Lang and Benny Goodman. His use of arranged versions of Dixieland favourites foreshadowed the style of Bob Crosby’s groups.

Many people have compared Red Nichols to Bix Beiderbecke, often with demeaning implications for Nichols. It is almost undeniable that Beiderbecke was the superior cornettist but he lacked the commercial appeal of Nichols’ arrangements and unusual instrumentation. Red saw the attraction of such instruments as the bass saxophone and the mellophone. Another fascination of Nichols’ early bands was drummer Vic Berton, whose unusual style gave the bands a unique sound. This is very noticeable on such tracks as Washboard Blues, where Berton’s use of timpani gives the band a distinctive sound.

Other tracks on the first CD worth noting include Riverboat Shuffle, which contains excellent solos from Pee Wee Russell, Dick McDonough and Red Nichols; Eccentric, which has a beautifully intricate arrangement; and China Boy, gorgeously introduced by Jack Teagarden. These tracks from 1926 to 1930 show why Red Nichols’ groups were so popular.

The second CD takes us forward in time to the period from 1956 to 1961, when Nichols revived his bands, with the clearer recording quality that was then available. This was the period when Nichols’ renown was revived by the 1959 film The Five Pennies. The film, starring Danny Kaye as Red Nichols, was rather mediocre, although Red and other musicians gave their talents to it.

On Lousiana, Red’s cornet comes through loud and clear, while Joe Rushton contributes a neat solo on bass sax. Marchin’ With the Saints takes the original tune (When The Saints Go Marching In) at an extremely slow speed to start with, although the tempo increases halfway through, with stimulating solos from Joe Rushton’s bass sax and Rollie Culver’s drums. The bass sax also supplies a very dexterous solo in Farewell Blues. Nichols tries to repeat the success of Washboard Blues but the playing is too ponderous to match the earlier version.

This generous album (nearly 157 minutes of music) is all you need for a clear cross-section of Red Nichols’ various groups in the two most important periods of his extensive career.

Tony Augarde

see also review by Michael Cookson

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